Elizabeth Bowen and Textual Modernity: Textual Practice, due September 30, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Textual Practice

CFP: Elizabeth Bowen and Textual Modernity: A Special Issue of Textual Practice
Special Issue Editors: Dr. Pamela Thurschwell and Dr. Siân White
Deadline for Manuscript Submission: September 2011

Elizabeth Bowen wrote of her prose, 'I want the rhythm to jerk or jar—to an extent, even, which may displease the reader'. Her fictions rejoice in, yet also chafe at the impossibility of, a language that never quite gets you where you think you should be going – she is, amongst many other things, the master of the bad car ride. With a fictional universe poised somewhere on a knife's edge between the worlds of Jane Austen and Samuel Beckett, her novels, short stories, letters and critical writings invite more critical attention. Modernist and anti-modernist; uncompromising observer of women's relations with each other and professed anti-feminist; invested in her Anglo-Irish heritage while unsparingly marking its demise, it seems that Bowen's work is, as she once said of E.M. Forster's, 'revolutionary in a manner impossible to pin down'.

Recent scholars, though not yet in a consistent or cohesive manner, have made efforts toward locating Bowen and her work within the literary canon, or at least a literary trajectory. Textual Practice is preparing a special issue entitled, "Elizabeth Bowen and Textual Modernity," that aims to bring greater coherence to the critical approaches to Bowen's practise with texts. The special issue will address the connection between those practises and recent understandings of modernism and modernity that enrich the study of twentieth century literature. Considering Bowen's work in this context has implications for our understanding of the limitations of canonical modernism, and for which elements of modernity we privilege in constructing literary and historical narratives about the first half of the twentieth century. Does Bowen fit into a recognized version of the modernist canon? If so, how, or which one? If Bowen's uneasy relation to modernism and modernity forces a reconsideration of her work, so too does such a consideration invite a revision of the terms modernism and modernity.

The editors of the special issue invite completed papers that engage with the relationship between modernity and modernism in some part of Elizabeth Bowen's work. Articles might address Bowen's relationship to multiple understandings of modernism (as a trend, movement, narrative): in the context of radical form and a new way of seeing the work of art; as expressing or reacting to a version of modernity; as associated with certain artists within social and literary circles, of which Bowen was a part. Considerations of modernism might also include related issues of genre, style, particular techniques or formal experimentation, subjectivity, interiority, fragmentation, and self-reflexivity. Discussions of modernity or the modern might consider the relationships between literary form and Bowen's uses of technologies, movement, performances of modernity, gender or sexuality.

Final submissions of 6,000-8,000 words will be due September 30, 2011. Please direct completed papers and inquiries to Pamela Thurschwell (p.thurschwell@sussex.ac.uk) and Siân White (white2se@jmu.edu).